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Art. X. Thomas Johnson's Reasons for Dissenting from the Church
of England. 18mo. Price Two Pence, or 14s. per 100. London,
1821. Tous Dissent is of no other interest than as it is connected
with the cause of true religion ; and if assertion of the principles of Dissent place us in opposition to the Church of England as by law established, this is only the consequence of a particular application of them. If that Cbirch made do deinands upon our conscience, but left us in possession of the freedoin which the Gospel recognizes in its adherents, we should be glad to be comprehended in its fellowship. We, however, are so tenacious of that freedom, and the Church of England is so averse to allow us the fair and full exercise of its rights and , privileges, that we must take Dissent less as our option than as our duty, and forbear to compromise our integrity by acknowledging the power' of that Church to decree rites or ceref monies,' and to have authority in matters of faith.'. Our liberty as Christians must ever be maintained on precisely the same grounds as those on wbich it was originally exhibited by its Divine Author,--the sufficiency of Revelation, and our personal responsibility in respect to its obligations. Whatever system, or whatever Church, assumes a control wbich will not permit us to act in perfect accordance with these primary obligations, must call forth a disavowal of its pretensions, and justifies the assertion of our religious rights.
It is but too common, we know, to represent Dissent as unnecessary, as capricious, as unreasonable, as proceeding from disaffection to the State. It is schism ; it is heresy; it is rebelJion; it is as the sin of witchcraft : in short, it is whatever its opponents shall be pleased to call it. Sometimes, we shall be gratified with the frank confession of an advocate for the autho. rity of the Established Church of England, that he is not acquainted with the principles of Dissenters, and, as an evidence of the truth of his statement, we shall find him attributing to them reasoos for their Dissent, which they themselves would never think of adducing. It is therefore requisite, that those persons who may interest themselves in the question, Why are you a Dissenter ? should be furnished with the means of forming & judgement on the case; and the tract before 'usmay be confidently recommended to their service. It is préferable to any thing of the saine kind with wbich we are acquainted as a summary of the principles of Dissent, adapted to plain capacities, without being in any respect unsuitable to cultivated minds. It is a simple, intelligible exposition of the practical question, which the Author bas never separated from the great interests of religion, and which he has never injured by
orcester. 12mo. pp. 184.
Art. XI. On the Amusements of Clergymen, and Christians in Gene.
ral. Three Dialogues between a Dean and a Curate. By Edward
would seemn that the volume cannot with any propriety lay
These Dialogues, then, are the Doctor's report of conversations held on the subject of Clerical Amusements, between Bishop Stillingfleet when Dean of St. Paul's, and himself, soon after leaving college, at the house of Sir Roger Burgoin at Wroxal, where the Dean was visiting. The merit of authorship, therefore, clearly belongs to Dr. Frampton; but we knows not that the MS. is a whit the less valuable on this account. The dialogue is kept up with great spirit; the sentiments are admirable, the language good, and the tendency of the voluine is so excellent that we can only feel surprise that it should have a remained thus long (as we presume) unpublished.
After some excellent preliminary remarks on the proper defi. nition of the word, or rather of the thing, amusements are con=") sidered by the Dean under the three heads of riotous and cruel ;'' trifling and seducing; and, innocent and instructive. The chase and other amusements involving the shedding of blood, are deprecated under the first head; and their utter inconsistency with even the professional character of a clergyman is pointedly exposed. There is, however, a sort of reserve made on behalf of one amusement involving the destruction of life, which the admirers of old Walton will think none the worse of the Bishop's taste for excepting from condemnation.
. I must allow, sir,' said I, that what you have said against hunting and shooting hath entirely convinced me of the impropriety of
both, as clerical amusements. You have said nothing, however, against fishing. Do you allow me to suppose this amusement to be a clerical one? It is silent, quiet, and may be contemplative.
• I am afraid,' replied the Dean, • I shall be thought too rigid if I abridge a clergyman of this amusement. Only I absolutely enjoin him not to impale worms on his hook ; but to fish either with an artificial fly or a dead bait. If he like fishing with a net, I approve 'it more; but still I cannot bring myself to recommend any amusement to him, which arises from destroying life.'
A remark which occurs towards the close of this dialogue, relative to a Braminicul or Sir-Richard-Phillips-ical tenderness on this score, deserves transcription.*
I would not, however, have you always take the measure of a man's virtue by the extraordinary tenderness of his feelings. I knew a gentleman so extremely tender towards the lives of animals, that, when an earwig crept out of a log of wood which had been laid on his fire, he forbad any more logs to be taken from that pile, and left it to rot. Yet this very man, with all these nice feelings about him, lived avowedly in a state of adultery. Such tenderness, therefore, may, or may not, be allied (to virtue): It is founded merely, in na, ture. "But when any one affection of the mind is regulated by a religious principle, there is in that mind a controlling power which reguJates other affections. Thus, if we abstain from cruelty on a religious principle, we may depend on that principle on other occasions. As to delicate feelings, they seldom reach beyond their immediate object.'
Cards, the theatre, the assembly room, dancing, glee-clubs, and Sunday evening concerts, come under review in the second dialogue. The first of these is treated with becoming but discriminate severity; and those persons who might stand the fire of a philippic, would find it difficult to turn off the point of the Dean's arguments. If there is any thing in nature which unites contempt and commiseration, remarks the good prelate, “it is the spectacle of a man going down to the grave with ' a pack of cards in his hand.' On the subject of the theatre, he may be thought to concede too much to even its possible moral efficiency as a corrector of the follies and vices of mankind, wben he says, 'I would have it go hand in hand with the pulpit.' But he unequivocally and strongly condemns the stage as it is,
* We are credibly informed, that Mr. Pratt the Gleaner, of sentimental memory, was once riding with a certain Pythagorean knight, when he forgot himself, or his company, so far as to exclaim, on their passing a fishmonger's
, “How I should like one of those « lobsters !" “ You, Mr. Pratt," exclaimed the indignant Knight,
you, a writer on sensibility; and wish one of those poor creatures 66 boiled alive for your supper!” He immediately stopped the chariot, ordered the servant to let down the steps, and indignantly dis, missed the unworthy ichthyophagite."
and his remarks go someway towards nullifying bis hypothetical concessions.
. In short, if the stage were regulated as I could wish it, even clergymen almost might be actors upon it. As it is now managed, they cannot well, I think, be innocent spectators. Tacitus, I res member, somewhere speaking of the modesty of the German ladies, attributes it in a great measure to their not being suffered to attend public diversions. I should wish only to make one improvement on this German fashion, which is, neither to permit gentlemen nor ladies to attend them till they are better regulated. The historian might have reference to the public amusements of his own country, with which he thought it happy the German ladies had no opportunities of being corrupted. Whatever his precise meaning was, it shows his general opinion of such amusements : and I suppose you will allow Tacitus, though not an apostle, to be a very good judge of men and manders. Besides, added the Dean, the very profession of a player is rendered so disreputable, that nobody ought to encourage it. Take the matter home with you. Would you wish either your son or daughter to seek a livelihood on the stage? If not, do you think it shows much moral rectitude, to encourage in other people's children, what, on virtuous principles, you would shudder at in your own?
The more delicate and difficult part of the subject, the specification of innocent and instructive amusements, is treated with great propriety and liveliness in the third dialogue, which contains some very useful bints to sedentary students in general, as well as to the clergy. Music is especially recommended, with a needful restriction.
I know no amusement so adapted to the clerical life as music. And indeed not only as an amusement, but as a mean often, as Saul used it, to drive away the evil spirit. Sedentary men are subject to nervous complaints; and I have known many a man who could at any time fiddle away a fit of the spleen.
: I am myself, said I, musical enough to have sometimes felt the relief you mention, though I can, on no instrument, charm any ears but my own.
' And what other ears, replied the Dean, do you wish to charm? To tell you the truth, I should think excellence rather a disadvantage. I have known several clergymen, wlio were masters of music, get into disagreeable connections by being called on frequently to assist in concerts with people whom it would have been more prudent to avoid. --We are willing indeed to suppose, that music makes a part of our heavenly enjoyments : but on earth, I am persuaded it is sometimes found among very unharmonized souls. " It may drive away a fit of the spleen, or moderate some momentary passion ; but I fear it has not often much effect in meliorating the heart by subduing inordinate affections. If, therefore, continued the Dean, you can fiddle so as to amuse yourself, I should desire no more.'
Gardening receives its due honours, as a most clerical amusement. Bowls and Billiards, with only good company, and for • np stake,' are also included in the good Bishop's book of sports; and a game of humnble pretensions, but of most salutary efficiency, is thus deservedly eulogised,
I then asked the Dean, if he had ever heard of the game of shuttlecock; or if he would laugh at me for mentioning it to him as good domestic exercise,
*Laugh at you ! said the Dean; I know no game that I value more. It has all the characters of the amusement we want. It gives us good exercise it makes us cheerful and has no connection with our poca kets: and if I may whisper another truth in your ear, it does not res quire much skill to learn. When my legs were in better order, I have spent many a rainy half-hour with Sir Roger, at shuttlecock, in his hall. The worst of it is, few parsonage houses have a room large enough for it; though perhaps the tithe-barn, if it be not better en ployed, may furnish one. I could say more in favour of shuttlecock, You may play at it alone. It is also an exercise too violent to last long. We need not fear, as at billiards, to mispend a morning at it.
-Laugh at you! so far from it, that I respect the man who invented shuttlecock.
• I asked the Dean next, if he had any objection to some little handicraft business, as domestic exercise for a clergyman? And I particularised that of a carpenter, or a turner; both which, I said, were very well fitted to put the blood in motion.
Aye, ayè, replied the Dean, I like them both. I have known very worthy clergymen good carpenters and turners. I knew one who had a shop in his house, and made his own tables and chairs, They were substantial and not ill made ; though he did not think them neat enough for his parlour, they did very well for his chambers and study, I knew another clergyman, added the Dean, and an exemplary man he was, who was an excellent turner. He used to work in box, ebony, and ivory; and made a number of little, pretty conve. niences both for himself and his friends. In the coldest weather, I have heard him say, he could put his whole frame in a glow by work ing his lathe.Did not you see in the prints, that Mons. Pascal, who died the other day, had retired, a few years ago, to the learned seminary of Port-Royal, where he, and other eminent men made it a rule to intermix their studies with manual labour?
I told the Dean I had seen it, and that I rather wondered at the choice which Pascal had made of his own employment, which was that of making wooden shoes.
Aye, good man, said the Dean, he made them for the poor pea. sants in his neighbourhood : and I should be glad to give more than double their value for a pair of them to keep for his sake.'
Upon the whole, we think that the Public are under obligations to the Editor for this amusing and useful work on a hackneyed but far from exhausted subject, and one of great praetical importance.